The Ramirez and Moraga baseball lineage thrives in Nathan Ramirez of the 8-9-10 Rincon All-Stars Little League team.
Ramirez showed the competitiveness and skill from those bloodlines in Rincon’s 13-1 win over Cactus on Friday night to claim the District 12 8-9-10 Little League title at Jesse Owens Park. Rincon advances to the state tournament at Field of Dreams on July 17.
“He’s more seasoned,” Rincon coach Eddie Sapp said of Nathan. “He’s only 10 years old, but he plays a lot of club ball. He’s a very seasoned kid. … I trust Nathan just because of his confidence on the mound.”
Nathan allowed only two hits in the four-inning game. He struck out three and walked two and did not allow a baserunner beyond second base.
He also went 1 for 3 with two runs and an RBI single.
His dad Gene Ramirez played baseball at Tombstone High School, Cochise College and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. His mom Sara comes from a family of baseball and softball standouts.
Parents Raul Sr. and Sara Moraga excelled in baseball and softball in high school and Raul Sr. coached at Sunnyside. Their children Raul Jr., Omar, Gabriel and Sara all became high-level players on the diamond at Sunnyside.
Sara was an all-city softball player at Sunnyside who was one of the top batters in Southern Arizona before moving on to Pima College.
“We’re proud of Nathan and his sister (Briel); they’re twins and she is also a very good softball player,” Sara said. “They work so hard at what they do. Very proud of them.”
Rincon went 3-0 in district playoff games with impressive wins of 22-4, 15-0 and 13-1, outscoring the opposition 50-5.
A majority of the team is 10 years old with eight, but it is also relatively young with seven of them being 8- and 9-year-olds.
The work put in from their numerous practices over the last month showed against Cactus with effective pitching from Nathan, productive batting from most of the lineup with 10 hits and a crisp defense that did not commit an error. A game without a defensive lapse at the 8-9-10 level is very rare.
“We obviously had only three and a half weeks to work with the kids, and from one to 14, we had just have a great group of kids, great group of parents,” Sapp said. “They put in the work. In 29 days, we maybe missed three days of practice.
“They hit the ball better than any 10-year-old team I’ve ever seen. Defensively, if you watch our infield and outfield, they put their knee down and knock the ball down. That’s what we’ve been teaching them. We tell them to limit the mistakes, limit them to one base at a time and then our infield takes care of business. We worked on relays every day for three weeks. Our kids know where they were supposed to be. And I think that was a huge key and in throwing some people out and not letting people take extra bases against us.”
The top hitters for Rincon in addition to Nathan included shortstop Mikey Ortiz (who hit an inside-the-park home run to lead off the bottom of the first and scored three times), second baseman Kris Pedrique (2 for 2 with three runs and two RBIs), catcher Brendan Byars (2 for 3 with two runs, a double and triple and three RBIs), third baseman Hudson Haner (1 for 2 with a run and RBI single), pinch-hitter Calvin Williams (RBI single) and center fielder CJ Horn (RBI single with a run and stolen base).
Cactus starting pitcher Mark Carrillo-Gaxiola struck out five batters, catcher Henry Pickrell had an RBI double and pinch-hitter Nathan Ambrosio produced a base hit.
DISTRICT 5 and 12 Schedule and Overview
Note: * denotes elimination bracket game
Little League Softball
Sunnyside is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Payson on July 15.
Sunnyside is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Queen Creek on July 6.
Sunnyside is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Arthur Pack on July 6.
Continental Ranch is the district champion advancing to the state tournament at Cottonwood beginning July 9.
Marana is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Queen Creek on July 6.
Thornydale is the district champion heading to the state tournament that will be held at Arthur Pack starting July 5.
Little League Baseball
Copper Hills is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Nogales on July 16.
Friday, July 2
Championship — Rincon 13, Cactus 1
Rincon is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Field of Dreams on July 17.
9-10-11 (Field of Dreams)
Saturday, July 3
*Game Nine: Copper Hills vs. Sunnyside, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, July 5
Game Ten: Championship (Rincon vs. Winner Game Nine), 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 6
Game Eleven: Championship (if necessary, if Winner Game Nine wins Game Ten), 6:30 p.m.
Majors (Field of Dreams)
Saturday, July 3
Game Seven: Sunnyside vs. Empire, 5:15 p.m.
Game Eight: San Xavier vs. Rincon, 7:45 p.m.
Monday, July 5
*Game Nine: Copper Hills vs. Loser Game Eight, 5:15 p.m.
*Game Ten: Randolph vs. Loser Game Seven, 7:45 p.m.
Tuesday, July 6
Game Eleven: Winner Game Seven vs. Winner Game Eight, 5:15 p.m.
*Game Twelve: Winner Game Nine vs. Winner Game Ten, 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 7
*Game Thirteen: Winner Game Twelve vs. Loser Game Eleven, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 9
Game Fourteen: Championship (Winner Game Eleven vs. Winner Game Thirteen), 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 10
Game Fifteen: Championship (if necessary, if Winner Game Thirteen wins Game Fourteen), 6:30 p.m.
Juniors (Jesse Owens)
Friday, July 2
Championship — San Xavier 17, Sunnyside 4
San Xavier is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Nogales starting July 23.
Canyon View is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Field of Dreams starting July 17.
Canyon View is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Litchfield Park starting July 16.
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Oro Valley is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Tempe starting July 16.
Continental Ranch is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Nogales starting July 16.
Western is the district champion heading to the state tournament at Nogales starting July 23.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.